There’s a reason why farmer, Nico Neethling, chose to sign his conservation easement HERE. It not only overlooks the patch of Renosterveld he’ll be protecting forever. It’s also next to the grave of his father, on their family farm, Keykas, close to Klipdale in the Overberg.
Nico says, “My dad used to play here as a child along these hills. He grew up here. He loved this natural land.”
On Monday (19 August), Nico became the sixth farmer in the Overberg to sign a conservation easement, which is also known as a servitude. This champion Overberg farmer has now committed to protect the remaining Renosterveld on his farm – forever. Nico has 142 hectares of Critically Endangered Central Rûens Shale Renosterveld on his property. The conservation area will now be known as the Keykas Renosterveld Reserve.
It brings the total number of hectares under easements in the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust’s (ORCT) Easement Programme to nearly 1500 hectares.
According to Dr Odette Curtis-Scott, the Director of the ORCT, the easement is important not only because of the many Renosterveld species found here. “This easement is part of our Central Rûens Shale Cluster – the veld type with the least hectares remaining and the fewest under formal protection It contributes towards our dream of protecting all Renosterveld along the Sout Rivier: an important corridor that facilitates the movement of wildlife that depend on Renosterveld for survival, including pollinators.”
The two other easement sites here in the Central Rûens are the Dasberg Conservation Easement, owned by Schalk Viljoen, and the Kykoedie Conservation Easement, owned by Joshua Human.
Nico says, “It’s the right thing to do. Where would the animals go (if the Renosterveld weren’t here). You can take it out, but why would you? In the long run, you have to think about the nature. Nature was here before us.”
With the easement in place, the ORCT commits to provide essential management support to Nico. That includes support to:
- Undertake ecological burns
- Clear invasive vegetation
- Manage wildlife that occurs here
- Control erosion on site
- And monitor species that occur here.
The Keykas Conservation Easement protects Critically Endangered and Endangered Renosterveld species such as Lotononis villosa and an unusual colour morph of Moraea melanops.
The ORCT’s bird monitoring here has also found a wide range of species that rely on this habitat for survival. That includes threatened species like:
- The Agulhas Long-billed Lark
- Secretarybird (the BirdLife SA Bird of the Year)
- Black Harrier
- Karoo Korhaan